Readers defend holy war fundraising

April 19, 2010

Pete Seda, an Oregon-based “peace activist,” raised money for jihadi terrorists fighting against Russia (long after that fall of Communism).  U.S. law enforcement is putting the frosting on the cake of their evidence collection against Seda. But some readers of Oregon’s Mail Tribune don’t see why such funding should even be illegal.  Here’s the Mail Tribune‘s article on Apr. 16 along with some of the more disturbing reader comments:

Federal prosecutors are continuing to gather evidence they believe suggests former Ashland peace activist Pete Seda was well aware he was helping fund Muslim terrorists in Russia when he allegedly helped launder donations to the rebels through his Ashland charity in 2000.

Court records filed this week detail how one of Seda’s ex-wives was living at his Ashland residence with him while possibly helping translate pro-holy war messages for a Web site used by Chechen rebels fighting Russians in 2000.

Other records detail that photographs of captured and dead Russian soldiers fighting Chechen jihadists were discovered on Seda’s computers at his Siskiyou Boulevard house that also served as the Oregon chapter office of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation.

Russian agents in 2008 were provided access to those computers as they looked into the activities of Seda and his foundation as part of their own anti-terrorism probes, according to a court ruling issued Tuesday.

“Those hard drives contained substantial evidence of interest to the Russian government in its on-going efforts to counter terrorism in the Caucasus,” U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan wrote in a Tuesday ruling denying Seda’s attorney’s motion to suppress evidence in his case.

Seda remained scheduled to stand trial beginning June 7 in Eugene on his money-laundering and tax-fraud case that continues to surface amid international investigations, anti-terrorism efforts in several countries, warrantless wiretaps and even a subpoena for Saudi Arabian bank records issued under the Patriot Act.

Prosecutors’ portrayal of Seda as a supporter of international terrorism cloaked behind a peace-activist persona “all seems very strange to me,” said David Berger, Seda’s friend and one-time attorney in Ashland.

Like Berger, some of Seda’s supporters have believed that, even if the alleged financial crimes were true, Seda’s intentions must have been along humanitarian lines to aid Muslim refugees.

“With no exceptions whatever, Pete was always a peace activist and certainly not a terrorist supporter or someone who is anything other than a supporter of peace,” Berger said Thursday.

A federal grand jury in 2005 indicted Seda, 52, on charges that in 2000 he helped Soliman Al-Buthe — a Saudi Arabian and partner in the Ashland charity — smuggle $150,000 from Ashland to Saudi Arabia to help what Seda called Muslim refugees in Chechnya, but the group was later labeled as terrorists.

Federal investigators traced the money — in the form of traveler’s checks and a cashier’s check — to a Saudi Arabian bank. The checks allegedly were cashed by Al-Buthe. The government has used a Patriot Act subpoena in an attempt to gain those records.

The charges also allege Seda covered up the transactions in the charity’s tax returns by overstating the purchase price of a prayer mosque in Missouri.

Seda was out of the country when federal agents raided his Ashland house in February 2004.

After more than two years as an international fugitive living in the Middle East, Seda returned in November 2007 to fight the charges and he remains free under federal supervision.

The federal government later labeled Al-Buthe and the Al-Haramain chapter as supporters of terrorism, but Seda so far has sidestepped that designation.

The chapter and Al-Buthe also were at the center of a federal civil lawsuit challenging the warrantless-eavesdropping program begun by the Bush administration. A federal judge ruled last week that the wiretapping was illegal.

In court papers filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Cardani sought a trial subpoena for Radmila Balobina, who was labeled in the filing as one of Seda’s former wives who was last known to be living in an unknown location in Egypt.

Prosecutors believe that Balobina lived with Seda in Ashland in and around 2000 while she allegedly used an e-mail alias of “ptichka” to do translation work for a Web site identified as Qoqaz.com.

Cardani’s motion identified Qoqaz.com as a portal used by Chechen jihadists “to deliver pro-mujahideen messages to interested followers throughout the world.”

The indictment against Seda identified “Mujahideen” as people who engage in a violent physical struggle or armed conflict to promote a holy war, or violent jihad.

Cardani wrote that the government might call Balobina as a witness because she could testify about Seda’s knowledge, intent and willfulness regarding the “ultimate destination” of the smuggled money, the document states.

Berger said he did not know Balobina. Berger also said Seda was living outside Portland and working as an arborist as he did in Ashland.

Seda could not be located for comment.

Cardani’s subpoena request came one day after Hogan denied a motion by Seda’s attorneys to suppress evidence collected in the February 2004 raid on Seda’s residence.

As part of his ruling, Hogan denied defense attorneys’ assertions that an FBI agent’s sharing of Seda’s Al-Haramain computers with Russian agents constituted outrageous conduct and should lead to suppression of the evidence.

Hogan’s ruling includes a reference to the Russian government intercepting a message from Aqeel Aqeel, who was both the head of Al-Haramain in Saudi Arabia as well as the president of Seda’s chapter in Ashland.

That message was to a Saudi citizen who was the head of the foreign mujahideen fighting the Russians in Chechnya and it contained information regarding a weapons shipment, the ruling states.

In Hogan’s ruling, no direct connection is made between that message and Seda.

The rulings are the latest among more than 300 motions and orders filed in this case, including documents considered national secrets.

Some orders also require lawyers, possible defense witnesses and even legal assistants who view or handle any national secrets to refrain from discussing them forever, regardless of the outcome of Seda’s case.

Here are the first three comments to the article:

J Stevenson
US Government provides 200 shoulder fired stinger missiles to Afghan Muslim rebels fighting Russians—good.
Pete allegedly provides $150000 to Muslim rebels fighting Russians–bad.

Dave Orchid
More reasons to not trust the US government!

What ever happened to freedom of speech?

Thus we have the opinion put forward that just because the U.S. happened to work with Muslims against the Soviets decades ago that we should also endorse more recent murders of innocent Russian civilians by jihadists.  Like that play in Atlanta, raising money for terrorism is not greeted with condemnation, but with a standing ovation.

One comment

  1. […] individual supported Qoqaz.net, a flagship jihadi website of the early 2000s (see here and here).  He also supported Azzam Publications, a website which instructed readers how to send money to […]

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